Today, Congressman Andrews announced that South Jersey hospitals will be able to protect over 200 jobs thanks to an extension of a Medicare policy affecting hospital reimbursement rates. This policy, which was set to expire at the end of September, allows New Jersey hospitals to be fairly compensated for their Medicare services, making it possible for them to maintain their bottom lines and meet their staffing needs. Congressman Andrews urged the White House to extend the policy so our renowned health care industry does not suffer devastating revenue losses that could lead to hundreds of hospital layoffs and a decrease in quality of care.
In 1997, Congress required The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to apply a floor to metropolitan areas' Medicare wage index -- a rate which serves as the primary factor in determining a hospital's Medicare reimbursement. By setting this floor, CMS guaranteed that a state's urban hospitals cannot be paid at a lower rate than their rural hospitals. However, recognizing that as one of the only states in the country without any rural hospitals, New Jersey was at a disadvantage, CMS assigned New Jersey its own floor which was set to expire at the end of this September.
Congressman Andrews advocated for South Jersey hospitals and pushed for an extension of the current reimbursement rate, noting that this disparity could threaten the health care industry that employs thousands throughout our region and serves as an anchor for South Jersey's economic recovery. Following the Congressman's support, CMS announced Monday that the current imputed wage index floor for New Jersey will be extended for 2 years, ensuring that hospitals in Congressman Andrews's district can expect an estimated $56 million over 2 years for Medicare services, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. These funds are vital for maintaining hospitals' staffing needs.
"I applaud the White House for not eliminating this policy, which could have proved devastating for our area hospitals. Not only would it have jeopardized the level of care that South Jersey hospitals provide, but such a cut could have placed hundreds of jobs at risk in a field that has proven to be a driving force in our recovery," said Congressman Andrews.
Congressman Andrews will keep fighting for South Jersey hospitals so that they can continue providing state-of-the-art care while serving as a stable source for economic growth for our region.